Bearing Witness – Street Retreat

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Last summer a friend asked me for help. Will was raising money for a unique experience called a “Street Retreat”, which entailed spending 3 days and nights on the streets of London with no possessions other than clothes. I was struck by how intense it sounded (and also curious as to why one would embark on such an adventure). I was happy to donate $20, and afterwards he pointed me to the Zen Peacemakers, a group which facilitated retreats like this around the world.

A few days later I was walking home from dinner when a homeless man suddenly jumped in front of me and shouted “Spare some change?!” My immediate reaction was disgust and annoyance. The man reeked of alcohol and was directly blocking my path; I swiftly side-stepped him to continue on my way. As a resident of San Francisco, this kind of experience was unfortunately all too common. But as I neared home I remembered my friend Will; I wondered how he would have responded to this man.

That next morning, I had a profound meditation experience. Continue reading Bearing Witness – Street Retreat

Positive Spin

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At the beginning of this year I made a New Year aspiration to practice with “Positive Spin.”

The basic premise of this practice is recognizing that there is a fundamental difference between the facts in any given situation and the story we tell ourselves about these facts. Typically, we tell ourselves very negative stories about the facts, and these stories can end up being a source of suffering. Practicing Positive Spin entails asking myself when facing a negative situation: “Given the facts I have, what’s the most empowering story I could tell?”

Credit where credit is due: I was inspired to take on this practice after reading an article by Tony Schwartz where he shared about “Realistic Optimism” and how it had helped him be resilient in difficult times.

When the New Year began I was eager for an opportunity to practice, and soon enough, one came along: Continue reading Positive Spin